Communities are awkward, tangled-up and glorious messes. Many of us have fantasies of the intersecting Olympic rings as the model for strong and free-standing communities that are consciously linked. Whole and mingled, too. Learning from each other, sharing recipes, stepping smartly through tedious circle dances.
We belong to many sorts of communities. Family, religion, work, avocational pursuits. And every damned one of them as dysfunctional as a two-legged stool. Such is our challenge, those of us who dream of healthy community. Such is the work required during these Tower Times when system collapse is a given and recalibration a daily amusement.
Weaving, weaving. I speak of it as “weaving” community. Weaving can be lumpy and misshapen and also sturdy. It can be filled with interesting textures and a multiplicity of colors and materials. What weaving rarely does is rip itself apart to prove obscure points and gain status.
That’s what actual communities tend to do these days. The warps and the wefts like to fight about who is doing it correctly and the shuttle ends up feeling confused and belligerent. And they all have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and post pictures of the general unravelment somewhere on Instagram. The loom is indifferent to the drama, having a larger view of the proceedings.
As we wade into the depths of the Samhain season, we can inquire of the Ancestors about their own community weaving and they’ll do doubt tell us they were too busy working and dying of now-curable diseases to think too much about it. They left it to the preachers and the politicians to figure out the finer points.
It seems like it should be simpler, wholesome, Waltons-like. And sometimes it is.
I was invited to speak at the CUUPS Convocation at Salem and several weeks ago, I did that. (There hasn’t been time to write about it properly but it was marvelous and I had a wonderful time.) I knew several of the people there but it wasn’t my community, strictly speaking. And yet they welcomed me with open arms and I found a little home there.
Likewise, I found myself meeting a new tribe while in Pittsburgh at their Pagan Pride Day last weekend. I was met at the airport by a woman who was fun and helpful–and all the subsequent meetings with the committee members and the members of the community were the same. My tribe in Pittsburgh! People who get me!
Both experiences gave me a renewed sense of the possibility of those circle dances and those slightly-dented interlocking rings.
And then I returned to my own social media amoeba and read the field reports from the polytheist or Pagan or Witchish communities. We aren’t doing much dancing right now. We’re doing lots of infighting and posturing, with the accompanying whining and hand-wringing.
Great oogly-moogly. It does make one weary. Between the chill of the ice and the scorch of the flame, we’re not in terribly comfy places. And we don’t seem to be listening to each other at all. There’s plenty of grief and mockery and sarcasm and pain. And the weaving isn’t tight at all and the edges and seams are all unravelled.
The season of Samhain, in the darkening of the year, is not the most wholesome place for this hard and good work. But we don’t always get to choose when and where we engage the Powers That Are. Sometimes you simply have to strike when the iron is hot.